Girl Talk: My ex is texting me and I don’t know how to deal with that

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#GirlTalk is SheThePeople’s advice column. Have a question? Send it to us girltalk@shethepeople.tv – It can be anonymous if you’d like it that way. Women from different walks of life share advice and their personal experience to help you overcome your own inhibitions. Today’s question is answered by Saumya Kulshreshtha a leadership trainer, educator and founder of Delhi Poets Collective

Dear Girl Talk

My ex keeps messaging me and I don’t know how to deal with that. What should I do?

– Ex-Girlfriend

Dear Ms Ex Girlfriend

Let me begin by saying that I understand how stressful and triggering unwanted pings in our inboxes can be. I honestly, genuinely understand this since we’ve all been there, at one point or the other. In this short span that I have been on earth, I’ve seen enough spats to know that snaps in relationships are hard – that point of a realisation that along with the relationship, all vestiges of communication also need to go. I’ve often wondered at what point does a break-up establish itself. When you announce it? Or much, much later, when you go incognito for each other? Or even later, when post incognito, you both surface in each other’s life as rejuvenated individuals with much more balance to continue conversations unaffected by the past?

All of these soliloquies aside, let’s come back to your question and let me answer it from the other side. When I couldn’t stop messaging friends and ex-friends. My perspective gets neater and more holistic from the other side.

Case 1 – A friend establishing boundaries.

Once, I texted a friend a LOT. A lot. I had just made up my mind that he has to be my 3 am friend, that all my problems were his and that if he wasn’t there for the uber-clingy me, he was being a bad person. He would frequently not respond to my messages with the same sense of urgency as I sent them. I would complain the next day and he would calmly listen. Till one day, when he sat me down, and told me a very simple thing. ‘Saumya, this phone in my hand, this is for my convenience, not yours or anyone else’s.’ BOOM. He said it with utmost composure and humility and a smile. And I couldn’t refute his logic. Rather, I imbibed it.

My phone. My convenience. My choices.

Girl Talk: My ex is texting me and I don’t know how to deal with that

Case 2 – A friend moving on.

I cannot let people go. I can’t. I look for opportunities to keep in touch. I nudge. I try to convince myself that I will set it right if I could keep the conversation going. And once, when faced with a friend wanted to move on, I just couldn’t let him. I kept nudging. Saying sorry out of sheer panic. Till, once more, I received a call through which, the friend communicated the necessity of moving on. He told me my pings did not make him happy, they brought along a lot of incomprehensible hurt. It broke my world to hear this, but I got it. I understood. I broke contact.

5 years later, I said the same words to someone else. He did not get me. I blocked him off.

The thing is, we guilt ourselves sometimes when we have to take firm steps in our own favour. We needn’t. We are our priority number 1. So, here is what I would have done if I were in your shoes.

Communicate your discomfort gently, but firmly.

The polite first step to take is to tell your ex how your messages make him feel. How they may be hindering your everyday well-being. How they may trigger memories you would much rather lock away. Remember, enter this conversation with focus. Don’t swerve or get swayed by emotional channels your ex may tug at. Have this conversation from a safe emotional distance.

Mails persist? Don’t reply. Don’t engage. If your words didn’t do the needful, let your silence speak for itself.

Mails persist and go on hurting you? Block.

That block button, my friend, is under-utilized. If silence didn’t send across a message, blocking will. If messages persist from other addresses, this will border on stalking and then I would recommend you take hard measures. (That, later!)

Till then, I’d just say, stay strong, say your mind, break away and block. Nothing is more important than your own happy and healthy state of being ☺